Obama waves beside Philippines Air Force chief Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Delgado before boarding Air Force One as he leaves the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila, Philippines Tuesday, April 29, 2014.(AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
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President Barack Obama vigorously defended his foreign policy record Monday, arguing that his cautious approach to global problems has avoided the type of missteps that contributed to a "disastrous" decade of war for the United States.Obama's expansive comments came at the end of a weeklong Asia trip that exposed growing White House frustration with critics who cast the president as weak and ineffectual on the world stage. The president and his advisers get particularly irked by those who seize on Obama's decision to pull back from a military strike in Syria and link it with virtually every other foreign policy challenge, from Russia's threatening moves in Ukraine to China's increasing assertiveness in Asia's territorial disputes.The Obama administration's own drumbeat toward a U.S. strike only fueled the narrative that the president was indecisive or didn't have the stomach for an attack when he abruptly pulled back, first in favor of a vote in Congress, then to strike a deal with Syria and Russia that aimed to rid the Assad regime of its chemical weapons stockpiles.Obama spoke on the final full day of his four-country Asia swing.Despite Obama's warm welcome from President Benigno Aquino, plans for an increased U.S. military role drew consternation from some Filipino activists, who say the agreement reverses democratic gains achieved when huge U.S. military bases were shut down in the early 1990s, ending a nearly century-long military presence in the former U.S. colony.
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